TITLE: Keep Moving
AUTHOR: Eugene Wallingford
DATE: August 04, 2005 9:13 AM
DESC: Moving into my new job has me feeling a bit overwhelmed and apprehensive -- and surprised at the moving part of the move.
My term as department head began on Monday. I feel
a bit overwhelmed with all I'd like to do right:
plan for the long term, plan for the short term,
learn more about our budget, create a list of
faculty committees to assemble, meet individually
with more faculty members about their goals and
interests for the year, sift through all the notes
I took in various meetings this summer, ....
I have a natural desire to do it all at once, to
be up to speed and at full capacity right away.
I also feel a nagging, almost subconscious apprehension
that I won't do as well as I have imagined I might.
In my application and interview for the position,
I made some strong claims about openness, transparency,
respect, fairness, and leadership. Now the promises
made in the safety of no responsibility meet the
reality of responsibility.
Oft expectation fails, and most oft there
I think that my best course of action in the face of
seemingly overwhelming possibilities and a fear of
failure is familiar to many of you: approach the task
in an agile fashion. Take small, measurable steps.
Communicate with my team, and let them contribute
their many ideas and talents. Get feedback wherever
possible, and use it to improve both the process and
content of my work.
I've been think about how I might adapt ideas from Scrum
and XP as explicit practices in the administrative side
of my job. My thoughts are ill-formed at this point,
so they are read neither for implementation nor description
just yet. But I think a
big visible chart
is in the offing.
The key is to keep moving, to be making progress in
When George Hellmeier of Bellcore received the Founders
Award from the National Academy of Engineering, he
related the tale of his first discovery in liquid
crystal technology. When he told Vladimir Zworykin
that he had "stumbled upon" his discovery, Zworykin
replied "... to stumble, one must be moving."
Sadly, the moving that is most occupying my mind and
time these days is moving my office. In 13 years here
and another 10 before that as a student of CS, I have
collected a lot of book. And a lot of papers.
And a lot of software -- on 5-¼" floppy, 3-½"
floppy, zip disks, and CDs. In the depths of a filing
cabinet, I found shrink-wrapped copies of Microsoft
Windows 95 and Office and Visual Studio. And cables
for 1992 Mac Quadras. On top of most all of this was
a layer of dust that betrays my lack of cleaning over
the last few years. I hope to have things set up in my
new office by the end of the week so that I can get down
to the real business of leading my department.
Where most it promises; and oft it hits
Where hope is coldest, and despair most fits.
-- William Shakespeare
All's Well That Ends Well (II, i, 145-147)